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August 15, 2014
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In the latest scientific affront to climate-change deniers, a new study suggests that nearly 70 percent of recent glacier melt can be attributed to man-made causes. The research was published Thursday in the journal Science.

According to the study, scientists did not detect evidence of human effect on glacier melt until the mid-1900s. At that point, only one-quarter of warming seemed to come from unnatural causes. It wasn't until 1991 that humans seemed to make a dramatic impact — researchers found roughly 69 percent of the glacier melt in the last 23 years to be man-made.

While there's a wide margin of error in the study, glacier expert Richard Alley, who was not part of the research, said the results make sense. He told Bloomberg Businessweek, "The authors have quantified what I believe most scientists would have expected." Kimberly Alters

8:32 a.m. ET

Republican lawmakers have rallied to urge President Trump against firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an option Trump has repeatedly indicated he is considering.

Sessions' most eager defender may be Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who called Sessions "one of the most decent people I’ve ever met in my political life" and labeled Trump's tweets about him "highly inappropriate." Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted his statement Wednesday morning:

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Luther Strange (R-Ala.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) all stated their support for Sessions' character, as did former lawmaker Newt Gingrich. "There's a lot of good in Jeff Sessions," Gingrich said Monday. "I think it would be a big mistake for the president to do anything except move forward with him."

Trump told reporters Tuesday only "time will tell" whether he gives Sessions the ax; in the meantime, Sessions reportedly has no plans to resign. Bonnie Kristian

8:07 a.m. ET
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On Tuesday, the Senate very narrowly voted to open debate on a bill to at least repeal much of the Affordable Care Act, and Tuesday night, nine Republicans and 48 Democrats and independents shot down Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. (McConnell's modified Better Care Reconciliation Act "is not necessarily dead," Axios notes. "Another, simpler version — like the most recent one scored by the Congressional Budget Office — could still come up later in the process.")

Late Wednesday morning or early afternoon, the Senate is expected to vote on a measure to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement plan, similar to a bill Republicans passed in 2015, thwarted by former President Barack Obama's veto. It is widely expected to fail, too. If so, the last plausible option for Senate Republicans is to pass what's being called "skinny repeal," scrapping ObamaCare's personal and employee mandates and a medical device tax, but leaving Medicaid, ObamaCare subsidies, benefit regulations, and everything else in place. "Basically no senators will like it," Politico explains, "but they may vote for it just to keep the repeal drive going."

Assuming the House wouldn't hold an up-or-down vote on the "skinny repeal" bill, it would go to a House-Senate conference committee, where Republicans would try to come up with a bill that could pass in both chambers. "The endgame is to be able to move something at the end of this process across the Senate floor that can get 50 votes and then to get into conference with the House," said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

Before a final vote, the Senate will consider dozens of amendments, in what's being called a "vote-a-rama" sessions, likely starting Thursday night. The Senate parliamentarian will also likely be asked to approve or throw out measures that don't meet the restrictions of the budget reconciliation process Republicans are using. Nobody knows where this unusual legislative effort to modify a huge chunk of the economy and a health-care system used by tens of millions of Americans will end, but it is expected to conclude early Friday. "All we have to do today is to have the courage to begin the debate with an open amendment process," McConnell told his caucus on Tuesday. "And let the voting take us where it will." Peter Weber

6:40 a.m. ET
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With all the turnover in President Trump's six-month-old White House, you might get the impression that Trump is deploying his famous TV catchphrase, "You're fired," on a fairly regular basis. But other than FBI Director James Comey, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Trump has "taken a passive-aggressive approach, preferring to demean, diminish, and demoralize subordinates" until they resign," The Washington Post concludes, pointing to outgoing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as a prime example and, to some extent, senior press aide Michael Short, who resigned Tuesday after White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci confirmed to Politico that he was on tap to be fired.

And in the cases of Comey, Yates, and Bharara, Trump did not personally fire any of them, sending deputies to do the job. (Comey found out from the TV set during a speech in Los Angeles, Yates from an apologetic Trump political appointee sent by White House counsel Don McGahn, and Bharara from acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente.) White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, considered a goner in the press months ago, weathered Trump's leaked displeasure by lowering his public profile. Now, Trump is heaping public abuse on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, apparently to get him to quit, and Sessions has few good options available.

Trump "can't seem to fire them, but he doesn't hesitate to abuse them publicly," presidential historian Robert Dallek tells the Post. "Presidents have people in their Cabinet they're less than enamored with, but they don't go out in public and demean them, denounce them," he added. "They do things with a certain decorum, and this man lacks presidential decorum. He is so vulgar in the way he proceeds and is so lacking in good taste."

Trump has played up his "You're fired" catchphrase, but according to Celebrity Apprentice alumnus Clay Aiken, it was NBC executives and producers, not Trump, who made the calls on which Apprentice contestants to fire. "He didn't make those decisions," Aiken told the Raleigh News & Observer. "He didn't fire those people." Peter Weber

5:14 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show that he had no words to describe what the U.S. government has been doing over the past 24 hours. "It's like describing a new color that you've never seen before, and this color is made of all the other colors dying," he said, "like if a rainbow got gangrene." Then he spent the next three minutes trying to explain what the Senate is doing with health care.

Republicans have tried to repeal ObamaCare three times so far this year, "but they finally figured out why they failed," Colbert said. "They failed because people knew what was in their bill — huge mistake. So today, they raised the bar on lowering the bar." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's big idea was to have the Senate vote to consider approving an unwritten health-care bill. "It's a black box we can't see inside — it's Schrödinger's health care, but the cat is probably dead because it doesn't have health insurance," Colbert said. "They now have 20 hours of debate to fine-tune the bill that they did not write for the past seven years. It should be fine — they already know the big stuff, like it will be printed on paper, and that's it."

The second big pile of craziness out of Washington was Trump's speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree, and the third was his mounting abuse of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Colbert read Trump's latest tweets, starting with the president's complaint that the "beleaguered" Sessions isn't investigating Hillary Clinton's "crimes & Russia relations." Trump's "got a point," Colbert said. "He's not looking into Hillary's ties to Russia, and during the debates, we know she met with known Russian sympathizer Donald Trump at least three times, shared the stage with him!"

Why doesn't Trump just fire Sessions? Reportedly, he wants to humiliate Sessions until he quits. "Trump's like a bad boyfriend who's too scared to break up with you and is daring you to break up with him," Colbert said, with some exasperation. Sessions apparently has no intention to end this, but Trump is reportedly already considering replacements, including Rudy Guiliani and Sen. Ted Cruz. "You know you want Cruz at the head of Justice," Colbert said. " We all remember how Trump spent the campaign calling him 'Truthful Ted.'" He ended by having Sessions — or a diminutive facsimile thereof — explain his anger at Trump. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:18 a.m. ET

President Trump's speech in West Virginia on Monday to the Boy Scout Jamboree was unusual, and in some regards, kind of shocking. On Tuesday, The Late Show kicked off with a version that might send chills down your spine.

Stephen Colbert was bemused by Trump's baldly political, sometimes partisan speech, but maybe not by why Trump addressed the jamboree. "It's no surprise he went to the Boy Scouts — with all his scandals, he needs someone who's good at putting out fires," he joked. The Boy Scouts is a nonpartisan organization for boys and teens, but, of course, Trump "did his thing," Colbert sighed, beginning an annotated walk through the unorthodox address, from Trump bragging about the crowd size to his strange aside about being able to say "Merry Christmas" again, to his lighthearted threats to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

After dumping on the uncynical civic spirit of the Boy Scouts, Trump — who was never a Scout — began reciting the Boy Scout oath, but he stopped short at the word "loyalty," joking that he and America could use more of it. "We could use more loyalty," Colbert agreed. "For instance, that guy on stage just threatened to fire the guy he said was doing a good job. And then — as if Trump's insecurities and personal obsessions were not enough to pour poison into the ears of children — he told them this story." After Trump's tale of a ruined millionaire and his sex yacht, Colbert was ... inspired. "Now that they've heard from the president, the Scouts have updated their oath," he said, putting on a neck scarf, holding up three fingers, and taking Trump's speech to its logical, absurd conclusion. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:16 a.m. ET
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Barbara Sinatra was still married to former Marx Brother Zeppo Marx when she started a relationship with Frank Sinatra, whom she wed in 1976. But Sinatra had unsuccessfully hit on her in 1957, when he was drinking with his fellow Rat Pack pals at the Riviera casino in Las Vegas, where she was a showgirl. Barbara and Frank Sinatra's marriage lasted almost 22 years, until the singer's death in 1998. In that time, they founded and raised millions for the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, a nonprofit to help children who had been physically, mentally, or emotionally abused.

Barbara Sinatra died at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, on Tuesday, at age 90. John Thorensen, the director of Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, confirmed her death, which he attributed to natural causes. Barbara Sinatra was born in Bosworth, Missouri, in 1926; her butcher father moved the family to Wichita when she was 10, and she moved to California and became a model in the 1940s. She is survived by Robert Oliver Marx, her son from her first marriage, to singer Bob Oliver; his wife, Hillary; and a granddaughter, Carina Blakeley Marx. Peter Weber

2:13 a.m. ET

Rex Tillerson has never been the most energetic, popular, or accessible secretary of state, but when reporters noticed that his public schedule has not listed any public events or other information for a few days, or been incorrect, they asked State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Tuesday why the department isn't saying where Tillerson is or has been. "He does have the ability to go away for a few days on his own," she said, and Tillerson is "just taking a little time off" after his "mega-trip overseas" earlier this month to the G-20 summit, plus trips to Ukraine, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. "He's entitled to take a few days himself," Nauert said, though she wasn't sure why the schedule just said he was taking vacation days.

Nauert declined to say if Tillerson is happy at his job, but said that recent reports that he's considering quitting the Trump administration are "false." "The secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department," she said, adding that he "does, however, serve at the pleasure of the president, just as any Cabinet official would." Tillerson has reportedly clashed with the White House over its micromanaging of his policy and staffing decisions and the assignment of big parts of his portfolio to Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser. Trump has also contradicted him several times, and Tillerson is said to be angry over Trump's treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

On Monday, CNN's John King reported that Tillerson's friends are suggesting he may step down before the end of the year, with one friend saying Trump's treatment of Tillerson is "becoming a death by one thousand little insults." You can watch King's short report on a Tillerson "Rexit" starting at the 3:25 mark. Peter Weber

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